It was fantastic! Thanks to Jun for allowing me to host him.
At the Friendship seminar given by Utada and Ikeda Sensei this past weekend, both instructors focused on breaking the uke's balance at first contact.
Ikeda Sensei stressed relaxation and using your center to capture uke, even if uke didn't know it, and maintaining that off balance through-out the waza. Ikeda Sensei was clearly a master at sensing uke's balance, and obtaining kazushi without uke even knowing it. He would have you grab his hand powerfully, even 4th and 5th dans, and then when you were sure you were in control, he would say 'nope', and throw his uke effortlessly. You could actually see uke's knees buckle, and then they were done. At one point, he demonstrated how by using his center to move uke, he could make uke look like they were having a fit. With almost no perceptable motion from his hand, he had uke twitching and jumping, all from unbalancing them with his center. His sense of humor was excellent!
Utada Sensei stressed various methods of focusing on particular joints throughout the body to effect off balancing your opponant at contact. An example might be shomen uchi iriminage ichi. At the moment of contact with the strike, shite uses the angle of the wrist and hand to redirect and off balance uke through the shoulder joint to the side and front. On stepping in with the left foot (from aihamne) and meeting uke's face, one method might be to focus on your elbow joint, control the back of uke's neck with the other hand, and off balance them further by controlling their neck. Done properly, uke's hips actually move forward, while the head and neck remain in place, virtually causing uke to throw himself. Utada Sensei chose uke from the lowest student to the highest, as did Ikeda Sensei, and demonstrated how various joints such as the waist, knees, shoulder and neck could be the particular focus of kazushi for various techniques. Utada Sensei taught the entire weekend with a severe cold, actually loosing his voice for part of the seminar. But he continued to teach excellent sessions all weekend, performing at his best for the conditions at hand. As always, he continues to teach us the true meaning of Budo.
My thanks to the members of the Doshinkan dojo who hosted us, as well as to Utada and Ikeda Sensei, for showing us how different schools of aikido can come together and train in friendship.